By Andrew Both
SHOALCREEK, Ala. (Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy says a world tour is a “great concept” but also thinks it will be difficult to lure top players into signing up.
Ogilvy’s comments come in the wake of a Reuters report last week that a British-based group is planning a World Golf Series (WGS) of between 15 and 20 tournaments, each with prize money approaching $20 million.
“I’m not sure how developed this plan is, but it’s a complicated thing to get worked out,” Ogilvy told Reuters via email.
“There have been rumours floating around about this idea for a long time, but I’d been hearing them more and more recently. I really had no idea that anyone was close to trying to do something.
“It’s a great concept. You would think a much larger market would make the best players even more money. And it would let more of the world see the game played at that level up close.
“I’m sure that the sponsors, and money and TV could all get organised, but getting the players will be difficult.”
Ogilvy is on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory County (PAC), which acts as a liaison between the tour policy board and the players.
The Australian, who won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, doubts the World Golf Group behind the WGS proposal will be able to put it together without the blessing of either the PGA Tour or the European Tour.
LOT OF ISSUES
Nearly all top players are members of the PGA Tour, which likely views the WGS as a threat to be nipped in the bud before it gets off the ground.
Co-operation with the American-based tour seems unlikely, though the European Tour, which is not as wealthy, could be more amenable to a partnership.
“There are a lot of issues that would need to get worked out if you couldn’t get (the PGA Tour) and/or the European Tour to go along with the idea,” Ogilvy said. “Who knows, maybe they have all that worked out?”
Another player told Reuters he was definitely interested in the World Golf Series.
World number 11 Tommy Fleetwood, on the other hand, sounded happy with the status quo when questioned about the WGS.
“My schedule this year is absolutely amazing,” Englishman Fleetwood told the Press Association last week. “I’ve played events on the PGA Tour for three months. Every single one of them has been a great event.
“I’ve got the summer of Rolex Series events (on the European Tour) and you’ve got World Golf Championships and majors, and you get to the end of the year with the FedEx Cup (on the PGA Tour) and the Race to Dubai (on the European Tour).”
Ogilvy, meanwhile, says he has not heard from the tour regarding the WGS. “We haven’t discussed this issue in the PAC, but I would imagine we will if this gets closer to happening.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by David Holmes)